Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Dressed to do the business - Clothes that sell or portray an image

(Photos accompanying this post are of  Notting Hill Carnival Costumes August 29th 2011)

Whether Abercrombie and Fitch's recent edict to offer to pay an 'eye candy' soap opera actor not to wear their clothing was a great PR stunt or a serious concern of protecting their brand image by spending marketing moneys in order to try to 'exclude' customers that do not align with their desired market segment -as Mark Ritson argued in Marketing Week 25th August - I know not.
What it is has done is brought back the whole issue of dress and image whether in and out of the work place back onto our new stands , news websites and TV screens.
                                                    Notting Hill Carnival Costumes August 29th 2011 London

“We are deeply concerned that Mr Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael 'The Situation' Sorrentino and the producers of MTV's Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response."

Apparently the actor's 'GTL' lifestyle (Gym, Tanning and Laundry)is not a match for A & F. Although this is a little puzzling when you see the photographs printed on the outside of their carrier bags.

I suppose actors' costumes on TV are their 'work clothes' and those off screen are their 'glad rags' - whether A & F's preppy look can be described as 'glad rags' I am not sure.

But all this talk of clothes got me thinking on how dress changes over the years and has been reflected in how people  dress for selling .

 First some observations from one day  'out in the field' ,followed by some research published this year on work dresss.

I was travelling by rail to visit a bio sciences business in Hertfordshire from London's Kings Cross  station by First Capital Connect (08.36a.m. service to Peterborough) when I was asked to show my ticket.

Notting Hill Carnival Costumes August 29th 2011 London

The man who requested to see my ticket was wearing jeans in the manner that youth does- namely slung below the cheeks of his bottom revealing his colourful boxer shorts.

Slung over his shoulder was a back pack. He was wearing some sort of casual cotton black jacket. The only thing that indicated he might be a bona fide ticket inspector was a plastic card with possibly the train company’s logo ( I could not really see that clearly )hung on a lanyard from around his neck.

On taking my ticket he scribbled a rough elongated circle with his Biro and handed it back.

I am old enough to remember when one’s ticket was clipped by a uniformed inspector with a hat! In those days when one was a ‘passenger’ on the railway not a 'customer'.

The inspector did get off at Hitchin Station and go directly to the station offices- so I guess he was legitimate.

Next I met up with a colleague at the station car park and we went went to visit the bio-science business on an industrial estate.

We were both 'suited and booted' but on entering the client's premises the dress code was clearly very relaxed. So our jackets were off pretty sharpish to dress down and match.

On my return rail trip to London the First Capital Connect inspector was smartly dressed in white shirt , a tie in corporate colours and dark blue trousers - a sharp contrast to his colleague on the morning service.

Notting Hill Carnival Costumes August 29th 2011 London

Arriving back at Kings Cross I popped in next door to the British Library's exhibition on "Science Fiction" ( ). On leaving the exhibition a lady stopped me and asked me whether the Library held an original copy of " Samuel Pepys' diary. "

I explained I was (like her) a visitor too and unfortunately did not know the answer to her question. "Oh sorry I thought you worked here" - possibly the fact I was wearing a white shirt and tie prompted her assumption.

Then back on the tube ( metro) I was reading my free  newspaper which had a photo of an elderly distinguished octogenarian German in a white clerical uniform with a chained lanyard round his neck sporting a metal cross. The Holy father was visiting Spain.

So work attire is still ever changing but seldom static with the possible exception of pontifical attire.

You might find the following recent  research of interest.

XpertHR Benchmarking have published a 2011 dress codes survey.

Notting Hill Carnival Costumes August 29th 2011 London

The survey is based on responses from 218 organisations currently operating 269 different dress codes, which cover a total of 163,483 employees.

key findings on dress codes include the following:

• The most common form of dress code is contractual, followed by written guidelines and verbal guidelines.

• HR most frequently takes responsibility for setting the dress code.

Managers are the employee group most likely to be subject to a dress code.

• Employees tend to adhere to dress codes, with little enforcement action required.

Reasons given for having dress codes include:-

The primary reasons for having a dress code are to maintain the organisation's external image, to meet health and safety considerations, and to reinforce company culture among employees.
Notting Hill Carnival Costumes August 29th 2011 London

9 out of 10 employers are willing to relax their dress code under certain circumstances.

Charity days are the most widespread reason for relaxing dress codes, followed by dress-down days and unusually hot or cold weather.

Only one respondent in 10 never relaxes its dress code.

Among the one employer in four who operate without a dress code, the most commonly cited reasons for not operating a dress code are that employees dress appropriately without guidelines, or that the organisation has a "relaxed" culture.

There are both benefits and drawbacks of dress codes the report goes on:

Employers operating dress codes have strong views as to the benefits they bring.
The vast majority say that having a dress code helps set standards regarding workplace culture, and enhances the external image of the organisation.

One in three says that having a dress code helps overcome equality issues in the workplace.

Nine out of 10 organisations have acted to ensure that their dress code does not fall foul of legislation outlawing discrimination on grounds of religion or belief.

The most common such action is to ensure that the dress code does not ban garments or accessories that can be construed as religious.

Only a tiny minority of those surveyed (fewer than one in 50) say they have received complaints that their dress code is discriminatory.
Notting Hill Carnival Costumes August 29th 2011 London

Some employers cite risk of discrimination claims as a drawback of operating a dress code. However, the most commonly mentioned drawbacks are provoking employee complaints and the amount of time and energy required to police the dress code.

What garments do dress codes permit?

"Business casual" dress codes are most prevalent, but what do they permit?
For male employees, both formal and "business casual" dress codes tend to restrict or exclude shorts, trainers and jeans.

For female employees, formal dress codes are most likely to prohibit jeans, trainers and t-shirts. A further two-thirds specify restrictions relating to the length of skirts and dresses, while four in 10 restrict or ban trousers.

"Business casual" dress codes for women are more varied, but most ban or restrict the wearing of trainers, cut-off tops, jeans and shorts.

Other XpertHR's detailed written analyses of the survey findings: XpertHR dress codes survey: Workplace trends and XpertHR dress codes survey: Defining acceptable work wear.
Notting Hill Carnival August 29th 2011 London

Other related links

Selling and Dress Code when visiting clients

Women in business

Tailoring and Work dress

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Are salespeople the slaves of defunct economists ? Fight of the century Hayek versus Keynes

2012 October Related links
Britain Needs more Venture Capitalism Allister Haeath City A.M.
Master of Money BBC  Stephanie Flanders Economics Editor

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood.

 Indeed the world is ruled by little else.

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”John Maynard Keynes

I guess “practical men and women” like we professional salespeople should take note!

When I was struggling in my studies in economics in my twenties, there were not the fun ways to learn as of today.

“Fight of the Century" is the new economics hip-hop music video by John Papola and Russ Roberts and is well worth watching and listening to.

It’s both educational and entertaining if you like me need a refresher in economics. Round Two Hayek versus Keynes has had over a million views on you tube.

It's sequel is  “Fear the boom and bust rap!” Over 2 ½ million views on you tube

 Economic theories and models seemed to me all those years ago to depend on rather unrealistic, unverifiable, or very simplified assumptions, quite often because these assumptions helped with the proofs of  their desired conclusions or so it appeared when studying and to be honest struggling with the subject years ago.

Such assumptions included

  • perfect information,
  • profit maximisation
  • and rational choices.

For those of us who work in Sales these are pretty significant assumptions which we see contradicted by the real world daily in the markets we work in.

Nonetheless John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August von Hayek - the prominent economists of the Great Depression of the last century who had sharply contrasting views are back in the news.

The arguments they had in the 1930s have been revived in the turmoil of our latest global financial crisis.

BBC Radio 4  recently aired a debate from the London School of Economics where Hayek at one time taught. In 1974 Hayek won the Nobel Prize for Economics for his pioneering work in the theory of money and economic fluctuations.
The iplayer link is

The debate was presented by eminent economists of our era - Lord Skidelsky ( Warwick University) and Professor George Selgin ( University of Georgia)
Friedrich Hayek did not believe it was possible to spend your way out of an economic crash .

Hayeck’s theory does not deny that one should maintain spending when boom turns to bust. But it goes further.

“The economy is like a drunk throwing up the morning after the night before ”
As Prof George Selgin University of Georgia quoted in the recent debate from the LSE broadcast on Radio 4.

Other Hayek quotes include
“To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.”
"We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish”
Countering Hayek, JM Keynes said
“You can't cut your way out of a slump; you have to grow your way out. ” quoted by Lord Skidelsky University of Warwick

Keynes was scathing in his comments on Hayek's book, “Prices and Production”, which he called "one of the most frightful muddles I have ever read".
"….It is an extraordinary example of how, starting with a mistake, a remorseless logician can end in Bedlam."

In 1944, Keynes led the British delegation to the Bretton Woods conference in the United States. At the conference he played a significant role in the planning of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ( IMF).

A 2002 International Monetary Fund study looked at “consensus forecasts” (the forecasts of large groups of economists) that were made in advance of 60 different national recessions in the ’90s: in 97% of the cases the economists did not predict the contraction a year in advance. On those rare occasions when economists did successfully predict recessions, they significantly underestimated their severity.

Source : " How Accurate Are Private Sector Forecasts? Cross-Country Evidence from Consensus Forecasts of Output Growth", by Prakash Loungani, International Monetary Fund (IMF), December 2002

Well prediction of recession is a very hard business clearly. As professional salespeople our challenge is to sell on behalf of our businesses through the recessions and out to the other side.

Whether you are a Keynesian or Hayekian, as “ practical folk of the Profession of Selling” we need to avoid being slaves of any defunct economist.

But the question is - which one?!


I had a very nice email from Professor Selgin with some suggestions for further reading which I would like to share - both articles are interesting and stretching but worth the struggle in reading..

Dear Mr. Alford,

Thank you for your kind remarks regarding the Radio 4 debate.

.......Concerning the questions you ask, I’m afraid that I personally am unfamiliar with attempts to connect Hayekian economics to sales and marketing.

However I did find the two sources linked below, one by economists I know, the other a recent dissertation, exploring possible connections, I hope they may be of interest.......

George Selgin

Other links worth following

Monday, 22 August 2011

Sales Forecasting, Futurists and Science Fiction - it's geektastic!

Sales forecasting - considering where future business will come from ,has always been an important part of the sales role but never easy especially in our technological age.

By 2015, it is estimated, there will be 15 billion devices able to connect to the Internet that’s more  than the number of people on the planet

Synthetic Biology  undertaken by "Self-organizing Systems laboratories" at Universities across the world, research into the possibilities of biological machines.  Working on DNA and bacteria they are looking to ways to produce bio-fuels , food, and  biological sensors.
'Futurists' imagine and document what could be the implications of such things.
Will all this speeding up technology mean the slowing down of humanity?  Are people to become just a consumer ? What if our Buyer/client or we as salespeople can’t think what we or  (s)he needs?
Perhaps Science Fiction has a role in helping us think about such questions
What are the relationships we will have with technology?
First perhaps we need to get into a geek mindset.

Harry Potter films could be viewed as science fiction .

 Are his spells merely "Apps" and what is the operating system of his wand?

At the moment there is a fascinating free exhibition at the British Library , Kings Cross London on genuine Science Fiction. It is called "Out of this world". Closes on September 25th 2011.

The British Library show covers science fiction with zones such as 'alien worlds','future worlds', 'parallel worlds', 'virtual worlds', 'end of the world' and 'perfect world?'

I had always thought it was writers such as H.G. Wells who started the whole Science fiction genre but of course it is all much older than that as the show explained.

 Lucian of Samasota describes a voyage to the moon in his True History  c  AD 160, even a thousand years before that -Homer's Iliad describes the god Hephaestus who made automatons such as the mechanical tripods which move back and forth to the feasting-hall in Olympus.

Talking of feasting - Sales and Marketing were quick to exploit the popularity of modern era science fiction. In one of the British Library displays was an early trade card of 1890 for the beef drink Bovril now owned by Unilever.

The card displayed three Bovril jars which had sprouted arms and legs holding up the world as if they were Atlas.

Apparently the brand name was inspired by Edward Bulwer - Lytton's science fiction novel The Coming Race. The Vril-ya race in the book gained their power and strength from an electromagnetic substance 'Vril'. 
In naming their product- the beef content was represented by the latin bos( bovis) and prefixed to the strength of Vril - BOVRIL.

Both in fiction and movies ,Science Fiction has been the harbinger of many later real products.  Social, Mobile and Local communications ( SoMoLo) was predicted by  a number of writers.

 So maybe Salespeople might find it is worth reading some science fiction not merely for its great entertainment value, its possible scientific predictions but also as indication of future business culture.
  • What kind of future will we have  to sell in?

  • What are you excites about  our modern age and what concerns you as a salesperson?

  •  What is your wish for future of selling?

Science and technology has progressed to the point where what we build seems to be only constrained by the limits of our own imaginations.

 The future of selling is built everyday by the actions of people.

 It's up to all of us to be active participants in the future and these conversations can do just that.

Perhaps Science fiction can assist us in our adventure.

Here are some of the quotes displayed at the exhibition - which could have resonance for the future of selling.
"It is change , continuing change that is the dominant factor in society today" Isaac Asimov

"What the writers of modern fiction invent today you and I will do tomorrow" J,C Ballard

"The distinction between the past, present & future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion" Albert Einstein

"We need men that can dream of things that never were."  John F Kennedy

In addition to Science fiction authors in our own time we have secular prophets of our day called futurists and some are also science fiction authors.

Futurists you may care to follow
Gerd Leonhard:

 Here are some notes of his ideas and thoughts  from one of Gerd's presentations

Consider the frame(work) not just the picture ie.It is not about the technology but how we use it.
The web is always on , interconnected and mobile.
 Conventional broadcasting is being superseded by networked business. Gerd reckons total fragmentation is certain.
We are moving from the network to the networked. The new era is total mobile empowerment. 
This will mean an era of mind share attention and trust.
For example -The most credible source for information about a brand  on a social networking site according to Internet User worldwide InSights Consulting  March 2010

A consumer                         38%

The Brand itself                  32%

Journalist                             7%

Marketer                             3%

other                               1%

Connectivity  Social and Mobile Gerd considers, is changing the very definition of Selling, Paying.. and Value.
Whatever you are selling you are in the audience.

No longer  are Businesses and their leaders the directors only but now connectors.
Connectedness to like-minded folk is the new social commerce.

 68% of US Facebook users in March 2010 were more likely to buy a product or visit a retailer based on a positive Facebook friend referral.
Gerd challenges us with the question Are we providing enough social oxygen?   For example of the top US retailers 18% had videos on their websites in 2006 by 2009 68%.
He describes Advertising 2.0 as
  • With-vertising,
  • Cont-vertising,
  • Me-vertising
– Messages have to be engaged, mobile, social and emotional.
Gerd advocates that communication should now be through story telling across all platforms. ( TV, Film Ipad, Kindle, Gaming,PC Mobile, Print etc)

The future of selling means
involving the users,
giving something,
all brands will be networked, 

Our entire Media and communications Infrastructure is becoming real time.

 It is changing how we Value , Price, Reason, Timing, Package and  Trust.

He cites the crisis of legal downloading in Music, Television and Films and points to data on how much people will pay for legal copies.

 Gerd suggests “ Data is the new Oil”  He showed a slide of increase in US Social media Marketing spending amongst B2B community

Social networking sites             43%

Webinars                                    26 %

Search engines                          17%

Company website                        7%

Gerd Leonhard   Gerd Leonhard

Another futurist site worth visiting:


The Tomorrow Project engages in ongoing discussions with superstars, science fiction authors and scientists to get their visions for the world that's coming and the world they'd like to build.

Authors Douglas Rushkoff, Ray Hammond, Scarlett Thomas and Markus Heitz  have created short stories about the technology of tomorrow on this site that you can download.
Brian David Johnson Intel's Futurist
Doctor Who's TARDIS ( Time and Relative Dimension In Space) lands at Olympia Exhibition Centre, London

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without we would go nowhere" Carl Sagan

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A-level grades not what you hoped for?– why not apply to the University of Life in SALES #alevelresults #resultsday

( Photos of great murals in Brighton, scroll down for useful links at end of post)

As you opened the envelope this Thursday 13th August 2015 you might feel that since you haven’t got the A level grades you needed to get into university you don’t actually want to go ( by the way there is always going to be lifelong learning anyway - nowadays you can study part-time and keep a full time job e.g. my old college Birkbeck, London )

In any case, don’t despair!

Plenty of today’s top businesspeople did not go to university. For example not all the Dragons Den dragons went to University!!

How you handle this current disappointment, how you pick up yourself , dust yourself down and take stock is all part of positive mental attitude , courage and toughness of character – all important attributes as it happens of a professional salesperson. Not all graduates who apply for sales jobs have these attributes in their character incidentally.

Have you considered SELLING as a career?

Although companies will engage graduates they do all not limit themselves to graduates exclusively.
What is selling?

Selling is a part of your daily activities. You sell your views, your ideas and yourselves to colleagues, clients, bosses, partners and families.

And that’s not the whole story either.

You are often talking with sales people – on the street, in stores and even on the phone.

Selling is a very important process – it is the lifeblood of most organisations.

Just look at the top of a Profit and Loss Account for a company- it’s SALES or REVENUE

If Companies do not sell their products or services, companies they go bust.

They recruit promising trainees, give them the best opportunities and hold their good sales people in high esteem.

Good sales skills comprise of helping customers to buy a product or service to meet their needs.

As a profession, this involves meeting people, building relationships, addressing challenges, being creative in offering solutions , self-reliance and independent thinking.

Such skills are relevant to our daily lives, selling isn’t merely a business skill; it’s also a valuable life skill that could help you in many circumstances such as ‘selling’ your skills at a job interview .

As an Apprentice you could find yourself working in a range of sectors.

 You may be, for example, a sales advisor in a retail store, or a membership advisor in a health and fitness club.

On an Advanced Apprenticeship, you could take on a supervisory role as team leader and have the ability to earn higher rates of commission.

Ultimately, your goal will be to sell as many of your company’s products and services as possible, while taking into consideration the interests of your clients.

Customers are important, and you’ll have to seek out new customers while still looking after the current ones.

Businesses realise the importance of salespeople – money tends to be good, most salespeople earn commission, and they can even be treated to presents or other bonuses like free holidays.

In fact, a top-flight senior salesperson could command a salary of up to £100,000, plus commission.

HOWEVER just because you’re selling something doesn’t mean that people want to buy it!!!

Salespeople have to work to ethical standards that reflect the profession. Their training focuses on the ability to remain calm under pressure and be able to handle rejection gracefully…with the motivation to try again when the opportunity arise.

The selling profession’s trade body is the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management. They have produced some handy guides on popular sales topics such as
  • Understanding buyer behaviour,
  • Preparing and delivering a sales presentation
  • and Time and territory management for sales people.
These colour guides contain explanations and activities which give you the knowledge and understanding you need for your sales role. You can see a sample Study Guide on our website at
There are plenty of books to consider reading – see book reviews on this blog under the labels directory on the right hand side of the home page.

Learners can be registered by companies for the QCF level 2 Knowledge Based Qualification in the Sales and Telesales Apprenticeship framework, through the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management ISMM.

Their qualification is called the Level 2 Certificate in Principles of Selling and attracts public funding. It’s recognised by Ofqual and provides an introduction to the core knowledge to start a first job in sales.
You can see the specification at

Here are some related links and useful websites:

Have you a flair for Sales ? article
Government Site
Princes trust
Institute of Sales and Marketing Management
Chartered Institute of Marketing
Modern Selling website
Job Hunting

Of course nothing will be 'handed to you on a plate ' - perseverance is part of selling.

Good luck in the next stage of your life in the University of Life and I hope you consider joining the Selling Profession - it needs young active and intelligent people like you.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

What will the new enterprise zones mean for selling? New Business Generation

(N.B. Those kind readers of the ‘to go’ generation and short attention span may like to scroll down to the part with LARGE Writing. Those who respect history may care to settle down and ponder on these things. This post about 1300 words with photos of Docklands and videos of the DLR to keep the trail of the post ablaze!)
In a previous hour of the nation’s need UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed directly to the United States via a radio broadcast on 9th Feb 1941 – maybe his motivating words could express today’s UK Selling’s plea to Chancellor Osborne at the moment.

Put your confidence in us. Give us your faith and your blessing, and under Providence all will be well.

We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire.

Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down.

Give us the tools and we will finish the job”

Government Debt reduction targets are considerable yet Chancellor Osborne needs to promote the tools for the country’s growth.

Past promotion of growth from government was around regional hubs and thought by many to be overly focused in the south, in particular in financial services.

( See Institute of Public Policy Research IPPR midland Yorkshire and Humber unemployment report is worth reading
Now manufacturing are going to be assisted by Government.

Government minister Eric Pickles on the BBC Today Programme agreed that past schemes were expensive and did not really deliver.

These new enterprise zones are different because they focus on specific sites with specific industries.

The task involves a re balancing of the economy from Public sector to the private sector. Last year 500,000 new jobs came from the private sector.

Plans for 21 nationwide zones were originally set out in March's 2010 Budget.

Bids to host one of the zones were submitted by 30 local groups, made up of council and business leaders

Yet a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development CIPD and KPMG indicate the north will fare worse.

Ministers claim 30,000 new jobs will be created by 2015 form the new enterprise Zones

Today’s announcement brings the total to 22 Enterprise Zones across the UK.
The Zones are to attract hundreds of new start up firms, with simplified planning rules, super-fast broadband and over £150 million tax breaks for new businesses over the next 4 years.
Part of the Government sales pitch of the new zones include the following benefits:-

1. A 100 % business rate discount worth up to £275,000 over a five year period, for businesses that move into an Enterprise Zone during the course of this Parliament;
2. All business rates growth within the zone for a period of at least 25 years will be retained and shared by the local authorities in the Local Enterprise Partnership( LEP) area to support their economic priorities;
3. Government and local authority help to develop radically simplified planning approaches in the zone.
4. Government support to ensure super fast broadband is rolled out in the zone. This will be achieved through guaranteeing the most supportive environment and, if necessary, public funding.
Cynics and realists may wish to continue reading this post the next piece of history.

 Those who think history is ‘bunk’ skip it and scroll down to where the business opportunities lie in the new enterprise zones!

Those of us old enough will remember we had initiatives similar to these in the 1980s and 1990s. Margaret Thatcher and John Major had similar ideas. Thirty-eight zones were established between 1981 and 1996.

The most famous was the Isle of Dogs in London's Docklands - now Canary Wharf.

The shiny skyscrapers and thousands of very well paid workers seem to make the case for the zones.

Yet a report from the Work Foundation think tank suggests that is perhaps misleading.

“With the announcement of a new generation of Enterprise Zones widely expected in the Budget, This
Work Foundation report warns they are likely to be ineffective at stimulating sustained growth in depressed areas. Enterprise Zones, tax breaks and other localised incentives may stimulate rapid investment in the short-term, but this typically lasts no more than three years before the area begins a long-term reversal back into depression” Abstract from “ Do Enterprise zones work?” Sissons with Brown Feb 2011

When the Docklands enterprise zone expired, there were just 7,000 people working in Canary Wharf, it says, compared with 90,000 today.

The zone may have helped, but the think tank says the success of the area is down to investment in regeneration and infrastructure, such as the Docklands Light Railway, not the government scheme.
The report's other conclusions are also off-putting:

• 80% of jobs created in enterprise zones are displaced from other places;
• the prosperity the areas bring is short-lived;
• and each job created costs £23,000 to create.

Enough of the cynical stuff let’s get positive!

Well as the management guru Peter Drucker is once supposed to have said “ If you are not part of the solution you have got to be part of the problem”
Salespeople are supposed to be problem solvers so it is up to us to seek out these opportunities and SELL.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "We are determined to do everything we can to make Britain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Enterprise Zones are a major step towards delivering this - cutting business taxes, easing planning restrictions and giving business the tools they need to invest and expand. “

In plain English low tax, low regulation & fast broadband

The enterprise zones previously announced were: Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Derby, Nottingham, the Black Country, the Tees Valley, the West of England and the North East.

"These new Enterprise Zones will be trailblazers for growth, jobs and prosperity throughout the country."

Q. What opportunities are there for you to sell to companies in these zones?

I have put the sector focus alongside each zone for those in sales who wish to seek out where you may find opportunities .
  • Daresbury Science Campus in Warrington science and technology.
  • Newquay AeroHub in Cornwall aerospace
  • The Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus Airfield in Gosport R&D, including automotive, aerospace, transport, defence and manufacturing
  • Rotherwas Enterprise Zone in Hereford; defence, advanced engineering, green technologies and food processing
  • Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent - Bio technology life sciences, pharmaceutical, bio-technology and broader R&D (including chemicals, food and renewable energy
  • Enterprise West Essex in Harlow medical technologies and advanced manufacturing
  • Science Vale UK in Oxfordshire green technology, advanced materials and engineering, space and other high value R&D (e.g. medical technologies, bio-technologies and cryogenics)
  • Alconbury Airfield in Cambridgeshire ICT, biotech, pharmaceutical, advanced manufacturing, creative industries, engineering and processing
  • Great Yarmouth in Norfolk & Lowestoft in Suffolk; energy sector (including offshore wind) and broader focus on ports, logistics, construction and engineering
  • Northampton Waterside advanced technologies, precision engineering, low carbon technology, sustainable construction, and high performance engineering, supported by related professional, financial, leisure and business services
  • MIRA Technology Park in Hinckley Leicestershire - R&D, including automotive, aerospace, transport, defence and manufacturing
  • Humber Waterside Enterprise Zone offshore wind Original Equipment Manufacturers and supply chain
  • North Eastern Enterprise Zone: low carbon
  • Black Country Enterprise Zone: advanced manufacturing including aerospace, automotive and engineering and environmental technologies
  • Tees Valley Enterprise Zone: petrochemicals and renewable energy
Each enterprise zone is described in terms of area size, sector focus, tax breaks, job creation estimates by the LEP in terms of businesses and jobs, planning, broadband and investment by UKTI.

Twitter site for the Department of Communities and local government DCLG is!/CommunitiesUK

Trying to ensure that new net jobs, of the right kind as well, are created is the big challenge for everyone.

These new enterprise zones are being located in areas that are already deemed to have high growth potential.

The zones are also being driven by the newly-formed local enterprise partnerships (LEP)- groups of public bodies and businesses.

They will be put to the test since the government is under great pressure to deliver growth and has a lot riding on these enterprise zones.

Expectations are high, quite possibly too high for the cynics; but what the hell come on brothers and sisters in selling let’s have a go!

The Chancellor has given us some tools let’s finish the job!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Post-Haste - Speed in Sales Negotiation and the Walkaway Option

Post-Haste - Speed in Sales Negotiation and the Walkaway Option

We can all learn a lot from both the Multi-millionaire investor Dragons in their  series - Hilary Devey, Duncan Bannatyne, Deborah Meadon, Peter Jones, Theo Paphitis and the entrepreneurs on BBC 2 TV "Dragons' Den"
The shows are entertaining but also educational for those in selling and negotiation.
Most of the contenders on  last Sunday evening's show faltered either through poor presentation, not listening and not answering the questions from the dragons, or left the den with good advice about Commercial viability.

Seldom do we witness the pans of the negotiating balance swinging from deadlock to near deal back and forth.

Sunday night was an exception.

You can still catch it on i player if you are quick- although I think it will be an episode repeated - possibly even used to make a training film on negotiation.

After a nerve-wracking opening pitch, the brothers Jim and Richard George who were looking for an investment of  £160,000 for a 25% share of the business were made offers by four of the Dragons, indeed 6 offers were suggested but a final agreement on a deal could not be reached.

Under the glare and pressure of being in front of the Dragons, I think we may have made the wrong decision by not accepting an offer, but only time will tell,” said Jim George.
Although appearing on Dragons’ Den was a gruelling experience and not something to be undertaken lightly, the brothers felt it was a fantastic opportunity to pit our wits against a formidable team of the dragons.
PostSaver sleeves comprise a tough polythene outer layer lined with a meltable sealant and are designed to keep preservatives in and decay out. They are applied using a low-cost gas blow torch.

The brothers Invented , developed and manufactured a Post saver  dual layer preservation sleeve.

Here is a time-line log of the negotiation that took place:-

  • They were asking for £160,000 injection for a 25% stake in their business. They gave a short presentation of their offer and demonstrated the product.

  • “Premature fencing failure has never kept me awake at nights.” quipped Theo at the post sales pitch questioning stage of their presentation.

  • Soon the brothers showed they had researched the market potential .e.g. 40-80 million posts are put into the ground each year

  • Patents in various countries mentioned

  • Their projections were a turnover of £240,000 in the first year, next year £ 510,00

  • Profit 1st year  projections were given after Deborah stated she was interested in profit rather than turnover. 

  • Sales Pipeline referred to negotiations with fencing contractors , Network Rail etc.

  • Deborah made the first offer “ I ‘ll Offer all money for 35% of business “ this was politely refused .

  • Duncan signalled interest by asking where were they on their negotiability range.

  • He then offered half the money and to be matched with another Dragon. "Two for the price of one."

  • Theo stepped in to enquire what the brothers were looking for out of this project.

  • “Give me a timeline” They answered “5 years”

  • All the money 30% "Would you be happier with two dragons?"

  • "If Duncan I’m happy 80k each" said Hilary

  • 4 offers on the table. Maybe a record for even dragons’ den.

  • Then it was Peter Jones   turn."I’m out I don’t think IT WILL GIVE THE RETURNS."

  • Deborah offered an imaginative additional option. She said she would struggle below 30% but "if you hit your targets then I would hand you back 5% OF SHARES so you have your 25%.

  • The brothers had a quick ( maybe too quick chat about Deborah's offer)

  • "WE'RE STICK TO 25%" !!!!

  • "THAT’S ILLOGICAL" said Deborah

  • Hilary " I agree with Debra your actions one step too far I have lost confidence in you. I’m out"

  • Duncan  "Do want to ask me how I feel now now?"     " I’m out"

  • Theo  offered a last chance  by offering to share  with Deborah's last offer " and you get two dragons."

  • Deborah   "There a moment in a deal when things change- I don’t want it now.   I’m sorry My offer doesn’t stand"

  • Theo "I’m out"

  • Six different offers from the dragons were turned down.

BBC host Evan concluded "If you don't like a deal you can always walk away"

While they couldn’t agree a deal on PostSaver, the brothers are already contemplating a second shot at the show with another invention.They have developed a special fuel-saving spout for use with fuel cans, which works just like a petrol nozzle at the garage and prevents overfilling by stopping the flow when the tank is full
The show reminded me of a presentation on negotiation at last month's TMI World Congress in Vilnius.
Where does Selling end and Negotiation begin?

This has been a debate of interest to Salespeople for many years.
Traditional approaches would tend to see negotiation as appearing when both buyer and seller see an agreement in principle and the negotiation of  sorting out the terms and the nitty gritty detail.

Certainly the case of the Postsaver in the dragon's den was more about the negotiation phase rather than the selling phase.

Christine Morlay in her presentation “ The makings of a great Negotiator” at the TMI World Congress 2011 structured he talk by illustrating ‘negotiations’ that take place in the home and their counterparts encountered in selling.

She offered 7 options

Christine then took her audience through her seven tactical options to help negotiate with such dilemma:-

1. Persuasion – cost neutral , but takes some time
2. Problem solving - control cost- trying to ‘buy’ their Yes
3. Unilateral Action – take it or leave it.
4. Capitulation - Surrender
5. Postponing - Delaying
6. Arbitration – calling in an influencer
7. Haggling - bargaining

These points were illustrated first in a domestic context. As each full screen picture slide was projected the key option word was displayed in a slow revolving into different languages e.g. Italian, French, German, Spanish and English .

For an international audience I thought this was a nice touch. English was the business language of the conference which makes it hard going for those for whom English can be their third or fourth language. It also reminded the American and British delegates that there ARE other languages!

(The balance between deadlock and negotiation)

Christine summarised her talk with a picture of weighing scales.

One pan represented DEADLOCK with weights of Finances, social Political pressure and time whilst the other NEGOTIATION had weights of concession, creating a Precedent and Credibility. All that was illustrated in action at Sunday's Dragon Den show.

Other related links on this blog

Negotiation Skills 12 Steps
Looking for a good negotiation skills course? Click on

Monday, 15 August 2011

The Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA) . 'Publishing Law' - a useful Source of reference and implications for Sales & Marketing Executives

Anyone can be a publisher in the UK!

"..All of us 'publish' opinions or other information every time we send an email to a client, or circulate anything that anyone other than the intended recipient may see ( although there is still an argument about personal text messaging)."

Most of such 'publishing' in the sales and marketing arena on the Internet in social media or through mobile phone traffic is the life-blood of selling today and keeps well away from the law but

What if your email sent a to a list of colleagues or customers defames?

What if the text or pictures you use infringe on another's copyright?

Now in its fifth edition published 11th April 2016
Today's Marketers and Sales Directors need to be increasingly aware whether they be author, publisher or anyone connected with the 'publishing' process.

The Digital Economy Act of 2010 is now partly in force and covers the areas of 'notice given' and 'take down' and 'disconnection' for the likes of the ISPs e.g. BT, Yahoo etc


To our rescue have come Jones and Benson with the recent publication of their book "Publishing Law" now in its fourth edition. Although primarily written for law students it is a readable volume for business people written in plain English and not cluttered up with footnotes.

Hugh Jones is copyright counsel for the Publishers association and Christopher Benson is a solicitor with the city law firm Taylor Wessex.

'Publishing Law' is published by Routledge

Title of Book: Publishing Law
Subtitle Fourth edition
Authors Hugh Jones & Christopher Benson
Publisher Routledge
ISBN ISBN 976-0-415-57517-1

Genre: Dip In Reference
Style: Plain English
Contents page: Excellent
Index: Comprehensive 4.5 pages

Flick through eye appeal: Clean and easy to navigate.

Time for a breather Stops : Useful straight forward summary checklists

Golden Nuggets: Useful Glossary of legal terms , up to date list of useful addresses,
Topic Summary: This is a comprehensive guide to the law as it effects the publishing process. it offers practical help for those who need an understanding of where and how the law is involved whether they be publishers, authors, agent and those involved with published material ( e.g. sales and marketing disciplines)
War Stories: Case histories and precedent appear to be a central tenet of legal world!
Illustration: None
Quote: Anyone can be a publisher in the UK!

Areas of particular interest to Sales and Marketing:

Part 5 pages 283-350 of this book is centred on Sales and Marketing

Ch 11 covers Sale of Goods and consumer protection including legal ownership in sales,descriptions and misrepresentation, satisfactory quality, fitness for purpose.

Ch 12 covers Advertising including unfair commercial practices, business protection from misleading advertising, unsolicited goods and services, distance selling and data protection.

Ch 13 covers distribution and export including trade and competition, restraint of trade, Eu and UK competition rules - Article 34 : free movement of goods, exhaustion of rights and recent developments on E books,digital distribution,e- publishing issues.

Other related links
Bribery Act Impact for Sales